I think that most bookworms believe that they would die without books (you won’t I assure you) and before this blog I was suffering from a severe case of bookbimboistitis but I thought it would be interesting to share an article I read in the guardian. The full article can be seen on this link, but I’ve pasted an extract out of it. (Copyright for the following extract- the Guardian and Gail Rebuck)
“Psychologists from Washington University used brain scans to see what happens inside our heads when we read stories. They found that “readers mentally stimulate each new situation encountered in a narrative”. The brain weaves these situations together with experiences from its own life to create a new mental synthesis. Reading a book leaves us with new neural pathways.
The discovery that our brains are physically changed by the experience of reading is something many of us will understand instinctively, as we think back to the way an extraordinary book had a transformative effect on the way we viewed the world. This transformation only takes place when we lose ourselves in a book, abandoning the emotional and mental chatter of the real world. That’s why studies have found this kind of deep reading makes us more empathetic, or as Nicholas Carr puts it in his essay, The Dreams of Readers, “more alert to the inner lives of others”.
This is significant because recent scientific research has also found a dramatic fall in empathy among teenagers in advanced western cultures. We can’t yet be sure why this is happening, but the best hypothesis is that it is the result of their immersion in the internet and the quickfire virtual world it offers. So technology reveals that our brains are being changed by technology, and then offers a potential solution – the book.
Rationally, we know that reading is the foundation stone of all education, and therefore an essential underpinning of the knowledge economy. So reading is – or should be – an aspect of public policy. But perhaps even more significant is its emotional role as the starting point for individual voyages of personal development and pleasure. Books can open up emotional, imaginative and historical landscapes that equal and extend the corridors of the web. They can help create and reinforce our sense of self.
If reading were to decline significantly, it would change the very nature of our species. If we, in the future, are no longer wired for solitary reflection and creative thought, we will be diminished.”
What are your thoughts lovely readers?